Tamriel Infinium: The Elder Scroll Online’s High Isle brings new story, new lands, and a new card game to Tamriel

The Elder Scrolls Online launches with a new story and land, called High Isle. This is the first game expansion for ESO since its launch in 2014, but it’s also the most significant change to date. While many aspects of this update have been met with enthusiasm by fans, one aspect has drawn criticism from players: card games like Hearthstone are now integrated into the world of Tamriel.

The “tales of tribute eso” is a card game that will be released in the Elder Scrolls Online. The new card game, which is set in the same world as TESO, will feature an all-new story and new lands.

It’s finally spring. The birds are singing, pollen is flying, and a young person’s thoughts shift to The Elder Scrolls Online’s next big chapter release. The annual ZeniMax release has become as consistent and predictable as a clockwork city.

“A metropolis constructed of clockwork,” I remarked. Is this thing on? *taps mic*

When I talked with ZeniMax about the Greymoor release a few years back, the studio representatives indicated that they try to switch the geographic places for each chapter so that one doesn’t seem too similar to the one before it. They’ve stuck to their trend this time, contrasting last year’s terrible Deadlands scenery with a more recognizable medieval temperate setting: The Breton race is the subject of the High Isle chapter, which takes place in the Systres Isles, which have a temperature and scenery similar to Europe or the United Kingdom, with undulating, rocky outcroppings and patchy-to-dense woodland zones. The terrain of the High Isle has never been seen before in an Elder Scrolls game, thus ZeniMax is breaking new ground for the brand.

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While High Isle is typically a Breton region, it is also a popular vacation place for Tamriel residents who have access to travel. For the wealthy and aristocratic, the moderate temperature and beach vistas provide a peaceful retreat. It also serves as a neutral meeting place for delegates from the three factions to discuss putting a stop to Cyrodiil’s long-running (well, single-year if you go by the official ESO chronology) three-banners conflict. Peace discussions will be mediated by The Steadfast, an organization with whom the player is unfamiliar. The Ascended Quarter, an organization that believes all alliances should be abolished totally, is opposed to the peace negotiations. With this backdrop in mind, it’s clear that this year’s chapter avoids the apocalyptic aspect of past chapters in favor of a more mundane political situation.

The new chapter’s terrain is divided into three main zones. Our destination is the harbor city of Gonfalon, where the peace negotiations are meant to take place. Gonfalon’s port serves as a natural access point. The northern side of High Isle is more thickly wooded and wilder than the southern port city’s attractive vistas. Some earlier Breton and druidic ruins, as well as genuine druidic villages, have a Germanic flavor to them. High Isle’s druids broke from the more well-known Wyrd party at some time in the past, and they have an unusual connection with the magmatic occurrences that can be found all over the globe. Finally, the whole prison continent of Amenos, an island where Tamriel’s worst offenders are sent, is covered in a wild jungle zone. Prisoners who have been condemned to Amenos are forced to fend for themselves or form gangs with other deviants in order to survive.

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Aside from the new setting and tale, the chapter includes a significant new system: Tales of Tribute, a collectable card game. It’s a “competitive turn-based two-person resource deck-building game,” according to ZeniMax. Tales of Tribute is a tavern game inspired by the narrative and atmosphere of Elder Scrolls Online. Completing numerous objectives and milestones, as well as completing overland content, can net you cards and decks. Players may engage in PvE Tales of Tribute campaigns or put their skills to the test in PvP against other ESO players. If you’re interested in learning more about this game-within-a-game, talk to Brahgas, an NPC voiced by none other than Lord of the Rings’ Billy Boyd.

But this chapter isn’t only about solo stuff; ESO is, after all, a massively multiplayer game! Two public dungeons, suitable for two to four players, may be found in the High Isle overland terrain. Public dungeons provide the option to meet other players who are pursuing the same objectives, bring a group of friends, or undertake it alone to conquer challenging monsters and areas. Lava vents, Tamriel’s very core flowing to the surface and bringing all sorts of odd creatures with it, are the new dark anchor-like dynamic occurrences. Lava vents are meant for four to eight players in a group. Dread Sail Reef, a new 12-player challenge, lies at the peak of PvE group activity.

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Surprisingly, of all the features ZeniMax has promoted for the High Isle chapter, I’m more interested in some of the little details that aren’t usually included in the sales brochure. Two additional friends, for example, may be unlocked via special quest sequences. This is great news for those of us who appreciate the buddy system but want a change of scenery. Many of the minor modifications will be accessible to all players, regardless of whether they bought the chapter – for example, fast slots have been expanded into three “categories” (tools, emotes, and classic quick slots) that may be accessed with a few button clicks.

In this pre-launch phase, I’ve only spent a short time in High Isle, but I’ve played enough ESO to see patterns and differentiators. I noticed at the time of the Greymoor debut that most of the material seemed similar to past releases, making it difficult to get too enthused about it. I’m not the only member of the MOP staff that has seen this. This pattern continues with High Isle, for better or worse.

While I appreciate the break from the world-ending tale and like many of the new sights, such as NPC knights on horseback and ships floating out into the horizon, the chapter has a sense of repetition. That may be a good thing for fans of ESO. I can’t say I blame ZeniMax for adhering to a winning recipe. Tales of Tribute is a break from the norm, but I have to imagine that only a very small percentage of ESO players will check in to play a collecting deck mini-grind.

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Nonetheless, I’m getting ready for my yearly trip around Tamriel. I pre-ordered the chapter and am excited for some Breton tales, jousting tournaments, and new allies. I’m one of the few people on staff that honestly believes ESO is one of the most beautiful fantasy MMOs out there, and I enjoy my time there. It’s like comfort food at this point. I’m going to eat it. I’m sure I’ll appreciate it. But I’m not expecting anything really novel or thrilling.

The High Isle chapter of The Elder Scrolls Online will be released on June 6th for PC, Mac, and Stadia, and on June 21st for Xbox and PlayStation.

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